Escalating Emotion in Commercial Fiction Writing
One of the first rules we learn as romance writers is that the Emotional Conflict between the hero and the heroine must not only be compelling enough to carry the relationship to its inevitable story conclusion, but that the Emotional Conflict must also escalate exponentially.
This is actually true of all Commercial Fiction. Whether you’re writing Science Fiction or Westerns or Paranormal, the conflict between the Protagonist and the Antagonist (whether Godzilla, Mom or the Ghost of Christmas Past) must be emotion-based in order to drive the story.
Escalating Emotion Workshop Handout
Below you’ll find a pdf of the handout for the Escalating Emotions workshop I gave at the 2014 Willamette Writers Conference. Along with an annotated example story, the chart lists the steps of Christopher Vogler’s Writer’s Journey, Michael Hague’s Screenplay Structure and James Scott Bell’s Writing from the Middle.
Use the chart as a reference for structuring your story — not as a bible.
Bookshelves for Your Print Library Collection
Too-tall tomes! The most clever thing we did when we had bookcases built into our 20-bay home library was to have the cabinet designer make eight adjustable bookshelves for each bay instead of the usual six.
I never would have guessed, back in the dark ages of the mid-1990s when my first romance was published, that the list of tools for the 21st Century working romance writer would include a Canon Rebel T3i DSLR camera with all the bells and whistles.
But, here’s the new truth: working writers are no longer allowed to hide out behind their screens and bang out stories. We gotta get out there and engage our romance readers with images and adventures. And that’s all good, by my lights.
New Tools, New Lessons
New tools, new camera, new lessons in how to work all those buttons and gears. Remembering what f-stop means, how to read the exposure meter, which lens does what, shooting video and timed photos, etc. Above is an image from my homework in preparation of my research trip to the UK — trying out a lens extension tube.
Funky results and soooo much fun to see the world through a new set of lenses!
Since I base all of my historical romance novels in the UK, castles and manor houses are my bread and butter–uhm, make that my tea and crumpets. I’ve used digital point-and-shoot cameras during my previous research trips, snapping tons and tons of photos of details of door hinges and landscapes and mine shafts and rugged coastlines. Good, but not great.
Smart phones and P&S cameras capture lovely memories, but in this new Age of the Image, as a working romance writer I need more sophisticated tools for sharing my experiences with my readers.
A working romance writer can’t just grab any old image off the net and share it on the web or slap it onto their indy cover. Someone owns the copyright on that image and might (should) object. With that threat uppermost in my mind, my camera becomes another surprising tool of the trade, allowing me to snap my own images — after first receiving permission from the “snap-ee” — making my work legal and above-board.
Working Romance Writer
I keeping thinking there’s no more room in my writer’s toolbox. But there’s always something new and exciting coming at me around the corner. Next time, I won’t be surprised; I’ll be ready with my DSLR camera! Snap! Right.
Late last year, I had great fun editing the OCR copies of two of my old print romances –Ever His Bride and Her Secret Guardian — and shepherding them onto the Amazon KDP, iTunes, Nook, etc. eTailer sites.
Confession: though I created my own e-book covers (for better or worse) I merely edited my old books then handed off the Word doc, the front & back matter and retailer info to a paid professional.
This year I’m working on the third and final of my old print books before releasing a brand new series of medieval historical mystery romance (Avon Books/HarperCollins still has all the rights to my other 7 historical romances.) (more…)